Confucius said “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it” referring to beauty as a conceptual measure of a person’s soul (Duthel 11). In her poem Narrow Way, Anne Bronte emphasized that only by looking through, despise the atrocity of the looks, one can perceive the perfection of inner beauty: “But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose” (459). Beauty is multidimensional, multi-level and abstract, and can relate to mostly anything. But in order to keep the balance one has to constantly make investments for gaining acceptance. The recognition of the beauty portrays individual judgment of physical and inner traits of admiration, based on one’s system of values, and empowers the individual by praising significance. Despite the generic discernment and representation of beauty, some people cherish the physical attractiveness over inner features; others doubt the truthfulness of looks by glorifying the soul. Even though the term beauty holds similar characteristics, when applied to describe the physical and inner beauty, it holds different meaning and illuminates two completely different sides.
First, defining physical and inner beauty one has to remember that it is merely subjective and depends on individual apprehension. Nonetheless, underlying that the common image of physical beauty exists, Hakim states "Individuals do tend to view others' beauty similarly, although not identically" (Shteir 2011). According to Freud’s theory, physical beauty is a set of facial and body features, which shape into a pleasant to the eye representation of a human being. However, attractive people catch the glances of passers only because beauty is average, or compilation of ordinary features (Shteir 2011). The inner beauty also represents a set of pleasant characteristics, which are close to the communicator in spirit. In this case, one cannot observe beauty at a first sight, but discover it through a long process of acceptance of one’s difference. Chekhov portraying the notions of physical and inner beauty in his play Uncle Vanya, perfectly presents the comparison of the two through the characters of unattractive, but spiritually developed daughter Sonya and a beautiful wife Yelena. The both characters seem to be unhappy, because of inability to reach the balance. For example, educated Sonya dreams of beautiful life, whereas the gorgeous Yelena feels incomplete due to her spiritual underdevelopment (Shteir 2011).
Second, in order to be accepted, one has to support the title of beauty by constantly investing into its development. Shteir states that “beauty is something men do to women” referring to the feeling of pressure from creating unrealistic expectations while constant run for application of television commercial beauty on one in reality (2011). Wolf asserts that in the preceding decade a woman was not pressured to obey the dictation of the market (Shteir 2011). For instance, today many women spend more than 20% of the income on clothes, make up, beauty parlors and cosmetics for enhancing beauty, while others, like Shteir, believe that there is no need to “choose substance over surface” (2011). Katz (2008), states in the article that the educational functions and needs of students being pushed aside, in favor of expansion of Princeton University campus and investment into unnecessary research. Tracing the parallel through metaphorical understanding of Katz’s article, note that investing into something small, yet meaningfully important, as inner beauty, would have bring more advantages then polishing the outside, adding more unnecessary grotesque features without improving the initial purposes.
Third, both physical attractiveness and inner development bring balance, peace and empowerment. Coco Chanel’s famous quip “Beauty, what a weapon!” defends the idea that physical attractiveness has a powerful potential (Shteir 2011). Women use their charms with respect to every aspect of life: getting a job, making acquaintance, shopping, standing in line, getting presents, etc. “It hurts not to be beautiful” says the back of the jacket of The Beauty Bias, emphasizing that women prefer to find themselves beautiful, therefore confident, rather than have an interesting inner world. Nonetheless, suffering, pain, and incurable diseases help to discover the beauty within. Dyslexic Philip Schultz thanks his language processing disability for finally revealing the secret of his lifetime struggle, understanding and accepting his difference at 58 years old, and merit a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. According to the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities, more than 40 million people suffer from dyslexia, along with such famous people as Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Jay Leno, Thomas Edison, and Whoopi Goldberg. Although, finding so much in common, physical and inner beauty contract in many ways.
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Discovering personal beauty divides the search on two sides: visible and invisible. Physical beauty consists of obvious elements, which find their application in the life of a person instantly. Shteir states in his article the key factors of physical beauty: “For facial beauty, the key factors are conventionality, symmetry, and an even skin tone. For bodies, BMI and the waist-to-hip ratio seem to be the dominant factors” (2011). Nonetheless, attractiveness does not always bring exceptionally positive attitude. Nowadays, flipping through the pages of the beauty magazines, such as Vogue, Bazaar, Elle, and others, one can find out that “beauty is not just a racist and classist ideal. It is something to admire, to be seized and elevated by, too long for, envy” (Shteir 2011). On the other hand, personal growth as a person and spiritual enhancement takes a longer time and is only applicable if purposeful. The author of the article poses questions whether Van Gogh would paint if he did not lose an ear and have seizures, or would Beethoven have created his chefs-d'oeuvre, if not for his multiple health problems, as well as deafness, or would Emily Dickinson strive to write her poems if not her eye disease (Katz 2008). In many cases, the lack of explicit beauty leads to extreme cognition and amplification of the sense of beauty within, propelling the need of creation.
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Also, it is believed that physically beautiful people have more successful and happier lives than those, who were not gifted by nature. The reason is that attractive people do not feel pressure from the peers and thus, they are happier and more confident, as a result more compatible and successful, when at the same time unattractive ones are more self aware. Proving the fact that “attractive people make above their plain peers” Hakim states that attractive men earn 14% more and beautiful women earn 3% more than their colleagues (Shteir 2011). Unattractive people try to attain beauty by taking part in reality shows, such as extreme makeovers, where they get plastic and dental surgeries, and new wardrobe, which, according to the surveys, increases their self satisfaction and boost their self-esteem. LaFrance acknowledges that the way we perceive others resides in psychological attitude (Shteir 2011). The author states that “beauty is anarchic, a force of nature, a gift. Like love, it is mysterious, not least of all because it can change your life” (2011). Most famous people, who pursue philosophically fulfilled and creatively interesting path, suffer through their lives from lack of acceptance by their society, and are recognized as outstanding only after death.
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At last, the physical beauty differs from inner in its universality. Despite globalization, the beauty cannons always vary depending on the culture. LaFrance suggests that a smile will always make a person beautiful (Shteir 2011). However, a smile in American culture is considered as a norm, whereas in another, like Baltic culture, it has a vulgar connotation and is inappropriate unless there is a reason for it. According to the research, women in Canada take less care of themselves, than American women do. In addition, the majority of the models are white, followed by a decreasing number of Asian, black and Latina, which signifies that the beauty features also range even on a racial background (Shteir 2011). One would not find such a diversity studying the inner beauty, as it is universal. Learning how to improve the beauty through defining the drawbacks and application of philosophical, psychological, and moral principles leads to appeasement and self-perfection, followed by acceptance and love of the self and the surrounding. One has to set as an example Theodore Roethke, Kay Redfield Jamison and John Keats, who overcame their troubles and found their inner beauty, which they also shared to the world.
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After all, beauty is a worthy gift, which each and every person has. Nonetheless, it is our choice to have it and help it expand, or use it and abuse it. Contemporary society dictates that physical attractiveness is a serious advantage for survival in the jungle of modern social constraints, prejudice and commercial imaging, when the inner beauty is rather a pleasant addition to becoming a human being, rather than a doubtless necessity. Physical beauty and inner beauty are interconnected with each other by their purpose to share the beauty through their subjective, empowering media. However, the two are contradictory in their visually available, success rate and universal discrepancies. In different hands, both physical and inner beauty can become merciless weapon of oppression and discrimination, or enriching source for creative and good way to spread light and glory.